An AT&T ad executive hangs up the phone, grabs his jacket, and heads toward the subway to Hell's Kitchen. It's the late '80s, and at the New York comedy institution The Improv, a slew of up-and-coming talent, including Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock, are testing jokes and honing timing. In the next few years, they'll perform on television for millions. But for now, they're changing the life of one ad executive.
The founder of LA Stand-Ups, Joe Falzarano, quit his promising advertising career because he "hated being a suit" and preferred to nurture promising young comedians. With accomplishments that include producing the CableACE Award–winning Caroline's Comedy Hour for A&E, Falzarano helped launch the performing and writing careers of entertainers including Jon Stewart and Louis C.K. Today, Falzarano imparts his more than 20 years of industry experience to aspiring joke-tellers, teaching them tactics for perfecting a punch line, calming nerves, and subduing hecklers with a marshmallow gun. Falzarano maintains a supportive atmosphere where students learn how to use who they are to connect with an audience, and even lets students try out material at the Hollywood Improv.
Led by Allen Levin, an experienced actor, producer, and writer, Lifebook Acting Class’s celebrity-extolled workshops impart budding performers with the art of dramatization. Stratified into three levels ranging from orientation to advanced, classes for aspiring professionals mix improv and character building with career coaching to prevent missteps such as starring in a western with talking tumbleweeds. Acting hobbyists develop comedic and dramatic talents in Acting for Non-Actors and First Timers, a self-confidence strengthening romp through the basics of theatrics. For those with proven celebrity or one major credit to their name, the Master Class sharpens already deadly dialogue skills into a force to be reckoned with in time for a prized audition, starring role, or first meeting with future in-laws.
Since 1995, Bang Comedy Institute and Theater has trained performers in the art of the extemporaneous. In the process, it's built up a history of boosting the careers of comedic actors such as Jane Lynch, Jeff Garlin, Janeane Garofalo, and Fred Willard and the personal joke writers of several heads of state. Hailing from backgrounds in film acting and writing for shows including MADtv, the faculty turn students into confident stage performers in classes that sharpen skills in character development, long-form scene structure, and physical awareness. Many students go on to star in shows on the company's stage.
Today’s Groupon offers big-top skills for aspiring circusonians of the non-clown lineage. For $25, you’ll get two hour-long circus arts classes at Kinetic Theory, a $40–$60 value. It's perfect for anyone who has dreamt of taking a contortion class to become a human animal balloon at his or her cousin’s birthday party. If you want to share the rigors of circusry with a friend, you can split your Groupon and each take one class.Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.